Like countless runners, I treasure my GPS watch, which gives me accurate mile splits and pacing for a run so I know exactly how I'm doing.
Lately, though, I've started leaving the Garmin at home when I do "recovery runs" -- you know, those slow, day-after-a-long-ass-run meant to replenish and get the muscles moving to repair micro tears and all that stuff.
I have this terrible habit of running too fast on my recovery days. I know it is defeating the purpose and I know that I need to go slower. And I do, most of the time. But I've found that monitoring my runs on the watch makes me run faster. I can't help myself.
So, now, for recovery, I shed the watch and find that I don't pick up the pace as much and it becomes a much more productive run. It feels easier and better for me.
What I'm doing by just running and letting the body go at the speed it wants to is what renown South African exercise physiologist Tim Noakes called being ruled by "the central governor." Noakes says the brain governs or regulates your system during exercise. The brain tells the muscles when to fire, when to hold back, what level of running exertion to do so that oxygen, glycogen and fluid levels are optimal and you don't, well, pass out and die.
Check out Noakes seminal book, "The Lore of Running" for a much more scientific explanation than some stupid journalist can supply.
All I know is that my recovery runs are less stressful without the watch. But when I'm doing a specific pace/mileage run, you better believe I'm wearing the watch. I'd feel naked without it.